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Atia Nasreen
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3 articles

The wonders of Iceland

Writer: Atia Nasreen Category: ভ্রমণ (Travel) Edition: Dhaboman - Eid 2018

Recently I was travelling in Iceland. This is a country I always wanted to travel to. The Geology of Iceland always fascinated me. Iceland is sitting in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, bridging two plates, on the West, North Atlantic plate and on the East, Eurasian plate. These two plates are moving away from each other as if Iceland is being ripped apart. Iceland is the only place on the Mid Atlantic Ridge where the two tectonic plates drifting apart can be observed above sea level.

The Earth is sitting on many different plates which are moving continuously. Movement occurs in different plates in different ways. These plates move on a hot flowing mantle layer. Heat within the mantle creates convection currents that cause tectonic plates to move several centimeters per year relative to each other. The San Andrea’s Fault, in the USA, has plates sliding past one another. The Indian plate is moving northward relative to the Eurasian plate creating a convergent boundary (Himalayan mountain range). This is why we are experiencing frequent Earthquakes in Bangladesh. The plate boundaries give the places some special characteristics, like volcanos, Geysers, hot springs etc.

I chose winter to travel in Iceland to experience snow. It was January. Usually I travel alone but this time my cousin accompanied me from London. It was a three hour flight from London. We arrived at the Airport before midday. We bought tickets for Airport shuttle bus. It took about an hour to arrive our hotel. The trip was beautiful. For almost half an hour I enjoyed everything covered in snow and no sign of anyone around. When I saw someone walking in snow for the first time I was quite amused. Slowly the bus was approaching the capital of Iceland, Reykjavic and I could see signs of life. We checked into our hotel. After our lunch we went to the hotel tour desk to book our tours for next two days.

We went out in the evening to enjoy the beautiful view surrounding our hotel. The white, snow covered mountains and the sea looked so beautiful. I picked up a handful of snow. Coming from the tropical part of Australia, it was an exciting experience for me.

Next morning, after breakfast we took a taxi to go to city tour centre to catch the hop-on hop-off bus. It was 9 a.m. and still dark. The bus starts at 9-30 a.m. The sun rises at 10 a.m. It was still dark when we started our journey. It was a whole new experience for me and I felt quite amused. During the last few months, I was travelling in many different countries in Europe in these hop-on hop-off bus. The Days were much longer and I enjoyed so many different places embracing different experiences. However, this is the first time I started my tour in the dark. Slowly the dawn was breaking and it was so beautiful. There were lights all around us and slowly, with the breaking of dawn the city looked so beautiful. The distant mountains were beautiful and white, we were going past a hilly city which was totally covered with snow. It was absolutely spectacular. Often we were going along the sea, white snow covered mountains kept beautifying the view.

We got down at a few places. I’ll write about one particular place which I really enjoyed.

Hallgrimskirkja Church is the tallest building in Reykjavik and the second highest building in Iceland. The Church was named after the best-known poet of Iceland, Hallgrimur Petursson. It had very unique architecture. The architect Guojon sought inspiration from Iceland landscape. The idea came from the basalt columns formed when a thick lava flow cools slowly into a polygonal joint pattern. The wings and the steeple of Hallgrimskirja look like cliffs of basalt columns. It took 41 years to build the church. I found the structure very interesting. I have seen the crystals of basalt as large columns in Ireland (Giant Causeway). I’ll add a photo of the basalt column of Causeway in Ireland while I was travelling there.

 

Inside the church was equally beautiful and I enjoyed inside the church as well.

The Next day, my dream come true day. It was the day for our Grand Golden Circle tour. It is a popular tourist route in Southern Iceland, covering about 300 kilometers looping from Reykjavik into southern uplands of Iceland and back.

It was a beautiful day although very cold. We were picked up from our hotel in the tour coach at 8 a.m. It was dark when we started our trip. Soon we were out of city and it was so beautiful. White snow covered everything. Slowly the dawn was breaking. At 9-30 a.m. we stopped for a short break for coffee. I bought my coffee and I was drinking it in the coach which I always love. The sunrise was at 10 a.m. By 10-30 a.m. we arrived at 

our first stop, Kerio Volcanic Crater lake.

 

Kerio is a volcanic crater lake in Iceland in the southern part along the Golden Circle. It is in the area known as Iceland Western Volcanic Zone when the land moved over localised hot spots. The crater lake is 55m deep, 170m wide and 270m across. It is about 3000 years old. Kerio was a cone volcano and after eruption when the magma depleted, the weight of the cone collapsed into an empty magma chamber. The level of water is the same as the water table. The place was so beautiful surrounded by snowy mountains. We were given some time to take photos and we were moving around happily being cautious at the same time as the whole place was slippery and we went up hill.

Our second stop was a water fall. We had to walk some distance on an icy path and I was very cautious, holding my cousin 's hand as the black ice was very slippery and dangerous. When we reached the water fall it was all worth it. The fall was so beautiful! It was partly frozen, water was flowing through the ice, it was a spectacular view. Coming from a tropical climate I relished a different beauty of nature.

Our next stop was Haukadalur National Park, the place renowned for its Geothermal activity. This place contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Geysir has been mostly dormant for many years. However, Strokkur continues to erupt every 5-10 minutes. Walking along the geyser with many tourists was a great feeling. Everyone was there to explore and enjoy the wonder of nature. I have seen the Geyser and hot Springs in Rotorua in New Zealand and it was a great experience. Now it was time to enjoy it in Iceland. It is absolutely mind boggling to think what is going on inside the Earth, in different layers from Crust to the Inner Core.

Our last stop was the most exciting one, we were taken to see the Mid Atlantic Ridge. We walked a long distance, up the hill. It was such a happy moment for me. I have taught about this ridge while teaching Plate Tectonics for so many years but never could imagine that one day I will have the opportunity to stand on the ridge. When we reached at the top it was so beautiful. The sun was slowly going down and the view was spectacular. It was a great feeling looking around the Mid Atlantic Ridge.

At night we were taken to a place to view the Northern Lights but due to the weather condition we didn’t have any luck. Hopefully sometime, somewhere in the world,  I’ll have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

Next day we flew back to London. At the Reykjavik Airport, while we were waiting for our flight, I was enjoying the beautiful view. It was a whole new world to me. The whole Airport was covered with snow. Huge trucks were continuously clearing the runways to make the landing possible for the planes. I never knew a world like this ever existed. I could imagine but there is nothing like having a firsthand experience. I always wanted to visit Iceland and I am going back with a very satisfied heart. My trip to Iceland was definitely a memorable one.